FIA rally action in Italy
Rally Alpi Orientali and Rally Elba Storico
The late summer heralded two Italian asphalt rounds of the FIA European Historic Sporting Rally Championship, the Rally Alpi Orientali Historic, on 28-30 August in the north east of the country and the 31st Rally Elba Storico on 19-21 September on the spectacular island of Elba. On both events, the competition over special stages on closed public roads was fierce across the four age-based categories.
Paul Lawrence Reports
In Category 1 for pre 1970 cars, it was local crew Antonio Parisi and Giuseppe D’Angelo (Porsche 911S) who claimed maximum points on both events to take top spot of the category. The big challenge to the Porsche regularly comes from Ernie and Karen Graham in their 1600cc Ford Escort Mk1 twin-cam. The UK husband and wife crew suffered from brake issues on day one of the Alpi Orientali but fought back on day two to finish third in class.
In Category 2 for pre-‘76 cars, Carlo Mylle (Porsche 911 RSR) still holds the upper hand despite missing the Orientali Historic, but his lead was reduced to five points, with just seven points covering the top six drivers in a battle of the Porsches. Anders and Ingrid Johnsen (Porsche 911 RSR) finally put their run of bad luck behind them in Elba by finishing as the top EHSRC competitors in the Category. The Swedes, who had retired from the class lead on three events earlier in the season, claimed 20 points to keep them in the race for the 2019 championship title.
Four crews have set the pace in Category 3 for pre ‘82 cars with the flying Toyota Starlet 1300 of Esa Peltonen and Jyrki Saarto going up against the Porsche 911SCs of Karl Wagner/Gerda Zauner and Pentti Veikkanen/Timo Jaakkola. In the mix as well is the Audi Quattro of ‘Zippo’ and Nicola Arena, which took top points in Elba.
The most recent cars, including some potent four-wheel drive machines, contest Category 4 for pre-1991 cars. Italian veteran ‘Lucky’ and his equally experienced co-driver Fabrizia Pons (Lancia Delta Integrale) returned to winning ways on the Alpi Orientali after electing to miss round six, the Lahti Rally in Finland a month earlier. However, it all went wrong in Elba when engine failure put them out on the opening day.
Category victory in Elba, by nearly a minute and a half over the Grahams, gave Parisi/D’Angelo a seven-point lead heading for the final round in Hungary. Photo Luca Barsali
Mats Myrsell and Esko Junttila (Porsche 911 SC) then took over the Category 4 lead only to retire as well on the first special stage on day two. Instead, the British-entered BMW M3 of Will Graham and Michael Johnston took victory and a slender points’ lead heading into the final rally of the season.
Will Graham, former Junior British Rally Championship contender is the young son of Ernie and Karen Graham and he has done a car swap with his dad for 2019. Originally, Ernie drove the BMW while Will used the Escort, but his pace this season has shown him more than capable of getting the potent M3 well up the overall leader board.
Former Junior Bri sh Rally Championship contender, Will Graham. Photo Courtesy Alpi Orientali